Arran Banner letters – week 09

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Reappraisal of Ardrossan project needed

Sir,

The article in last week’s Banner by the Arran Ferry Action Group sums up very well the continuing ‘ferry fiasco’. The article states that the Glen Sannox will not be able to use the Irish berth and indeed over the years similar comments have been made about the berth being unsuitable and what seems to be a general reluctance to use it.


I would have thought that being able to come into the harbour with more way on, avoiding the tight turn into the Arran berth and still having room to slow down before turning into the Irish berth, would be an advantage.

Discussing this with a CalMac skipper at a meeting in Brodick Hall, he said the problem was that the prevailing wind blows the ship away from the quay and that a wider turn into the berth would help.

Thinking back to the late 1960s when Burns & Laird operated their Irish service from that quay, I had assumed the MV Lion must have been a much smaller ship that did not catch so much wind.

She was not. At 110 metres she was 18 metres longer than the Caledonian Isles and eight metres longer than the Glen Sannox. Her beam was just slightly more than the Glen Sannox and her capacity at 1,200 passengers and 170 cars far exceeded any ferry on the Arran run.


She had stabilizers, a bow thruster, a bow rudder and the 7700kw engines gave her a service speed of 19 knots. Perhaps she was before her time or more likely our ferries were lagging behind the times.

While the move to Troon will not inconvenience vehicular traffic very much apart from the extra sailing time of 15 minutes, it will be a disaster for foot passengers.

While Arran folk will have to put up with the extra leg in their journey, getting from the ferry to the rail station or main bus route and back, and also that access to the ferry at Troon will be via the car deck and the stairs, does CalMac not realise visitors may not put up with it.

They can choose to go elsewhere and avoid the extra hassle and longer journey time. The time scale of 18 to 24 months will almost certainly be longer due to unforeseen problems. A ‘dedicated bag drop’ could be created on the car deck to avoid the need to take luggage up the stairs but this might not be possible because of ‘not leaving luggage unattended’.

The longer journey time and slower turnaround must mean fewer sailings each day and reduced capacity to meet the demand over the busy summer period. Arran needs every possible visitor after the economic downturn caused by Covid.

If the Lion could use the Irish berth I see no reason why, with refurbishment and some dredging, the Glen Sannox cannot, with her three bow thrusters and I believe a stern thruster.

The new terminal should be built alongside the berth and to a long and high design, providing shelter from the prevailing wind; any extra space not needed for the actual terminal could be rented out. This could be achieved while the Arran berth is still in use and avoids the huge cost of realigning it. It also removes the need to transfer to Troon.

A full reappraisal of the Ardrossan project is needed and needed now.

Yours,

Jim Climie,

Whiting Bay.

 

Disaster for foot passengers

Sir,

I would like to ask islands minister Paul Wheelhouse if he can tell the foot passengers of Arran, and there are a large number, how they are going to get to and from the ferry berth in Troon harbour to the public transport system in Troon?

It is quite a long way. Unlike Ardrossan harbour, where the station is only a few metres from the boat and a local bus service is only 0.5 kilometres away in the centre of Ardrossan.

This bus service connects people to Crosshouse Hospital and all the Ayr hospitals. The Troon proposal is a disaster for Arran foot passengers.

I have a solution. At the very minimum there must be a normal timetable to Ardrossan for foot passengers to connect to the existing excellent public transport system.

This will also work well for the large number of day visitors that Arran can get.

Then the car ferry can go where it likes. This problem must be resolved.

Yours,

Carl Bush,

Lamlash.

 

No issue is more important

Sir,

I applaud how the Arran Ferry Action Group continues to highlight the abysmal state of the ferry and harbour procurement system.

We are still waiting for an inappropriate, oversized ferry, due to be delivered five years late, to a harbour it won’t fit into and that won’t be ready for another two years after that, all costing more than double the original price – if that’s not a ‘catastrophic’ procurement failure then what is?

However, when I ask North Ayrshire’s councillors to hold our inept SNP-run Scottish government to account for this failure, as I did at last week’s North Ayrshire Council meeting, I get no support from Arran’s other councillor representatives.

I am the only North Ayrshire councillor to have brought the ferry shambles to the attention of the council over the past four years, and on each occasion I get no support from SNP or Labour councillors. I was elected to represent the interests of the people of Arran and Ardrossan and no issue is more important for the people of Arran than the ferry.

Responsibility for the ferry rests wholly with the SNP Scottish government and it must be held accountable for the damage that our inadequate ferry service continues to cause to our communities and economy.

How anybody on Arran can continue to remain uncritical of how such a fundamental Arran issue is being handled escapes me.

For whatever reason, the SNP government is unable or unwilling to make change. The minister denies that there is a problem and refuses to accept the criticism and recommendations made by the cross-party parliamentary enquiry into ferry procurement.

It is clear that we will only get a better ferry service with a change of Scottish government.

Yours,

Timothy Billings,

Conservative councillor for Ardrossan and Arran.

 

Tokenism will not suffice

Sir,

‘…any public figure, organisation, or company which does not express unity with a popular sentiment or belief is automatically adjudged to stand in opposition to it.’  (McLaughlin, 2021)

The assertion made here is exemplified by the torrent of bile, via mainstream and social media, towards the international rugby players who chose not to ‘take the knee’ before recent matches in the Six Nations.

It also emphasises the naivety of those proffering such opprobrium. To advance such an over-simplistic, binary, do-as-I-do-or-you-are-racist argument does nothing to facilitate genuine progress being made against one of society’s most complex ills.

It is argued that the overwhelming majority of people in the UK are honest, fair-minded, and abhor discrimination in all its forms and that only a small minority in our society holds beliefs that such abuse of a fellow human being is in any way acceptable.

To counter the warped views of this small section of society, mere tokenism will not suffice.  Only acts of substance will have any realistic possibility in altering the entrenched toxic views held by this minority.

The contrived furore surrounding ‘taking the knee’ is not only dictatorial in our free and democratic society, but, regrettably, also obscures the laudable aims of the genuine anti-racist campaign and stifles the open and honest debate and action necessary to address fully the problem in any meaningful way.

Yours,
 
Name and address supplied.